Campus & Community


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Harvard Professor Cynthia M. Friend, the Theodore William Richards Professor of Chemistry and Professor of Materials Science, is the 2009 recipient of the George A. Olah Award in Hydrocarbon or Petroleum Chemistry by the American Chemical Society.

Friend is “one of the outstanding surface scientists in the world and one who has consistently built connections between surface science and molecular chemistry — organic and hydrocarbon chemistry in particular,” said Roald Hoffmann, a Nobel laureate and the Frank H.T. Rhodes Professor of Humane Letters at Cornell University.

“To this day, I’m really excited about what I’m doing,” said Friend. “It’s an endurance contest, but mainly, it’s staying focused on the research that you want to do.”

During her 26 years at Harvard, Friend has established “a general approach to the study of complex transformations of hydrocarbon molecules on surfaces that combines advanced experimental and theoretical approaches,” said colleague Eric N. Jacobsen, the Sheldon Emery Professor of Chemistry at Harvard.

According to Friend, some of her most consequential work has been in desulfurization chemistry. More recently, her research group has been studying partial oxidation chemistry on gold surfaces, an area that she says contains “interesting puzzles.”

Seven Harvard professors receive Sloan Fellowships

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has announced that seven Harvard professors are among the 118 recipients of the Sloan Research Fellowships for 2009. Sloan Fellowships “seek to stimulate fundamental research by early-career scientists and scholars of outstanding promise.” The fellows, who receive a $40,000 grant for the two-year fellowship, are selected for their distinguished performance and unique potential to make substantial contributions to their field.

This year’s Harvard recipients and their field of study are as follows: Alan Aspuru-Guzik for chemistry; Erica Field for economics; Thomas Lam, the Benjamin Peirce Assistant Professor of Mathematics, for mathematics; Andres E. Leschziner for molecular biology; Nathan Nunn for economics; Bence P. Ölveczky for organismic and evolutionary biology; and Lauren K. Williams, the Benjamin Peirce Assistant Professor of Mathematics, for mathematics.

Gates honored with Taplin Jr. Public Intellectual Award

The Woodrow Wilson Foundation has named W.E.B. Du Bois Institute Director Henry Louis Gates Jr. the 2009 winner of the Frank E. Taplin Jr. Public Intellectual Award. Gates is also the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University.

In selecting recipients of the Taplin Award, the foundation solicits nominations from community and academic leaders who can attest to the impact of the nominee’s accomplishments on local, regional, or national levels.

No stranger to accolades, Gates is one of the best-known cultural critics today, and has been honored by the MacArthur Foundation and the Academy of Arts and Sciences, and was named one of Time magazine’s 25 most influential Americans, to list but a few. This year also marks the 20th anniversary of “The Signifying Monkey,” Gates’ seminal and provocative work on African-American literature.